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Commissioners pledge $20,000 for Salute

November 29, 2006|by TARA REILLY

The Washington County Commissioners pledged $20,000 for the Maryland Symphony Orchestra's 2007 Salute to Independence concert after officials said the program was in financial trouble.

Brendan Fitzsimmons, chairman of the orchestra's board of directors, and Tom Riford, chief executive officer and president of the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau, made the request at Tuesday's commissioners' meeting.

The concert is held annually at Antietam National Battlefield during the Fourth of July weekend.

The cost of producing the event has increased by 20 percent over the last four years, according to information included with the county's agenda.

The orchestra board and staff raise about $70,000 a year in funding, but expenses are more than $150,000, according to a written statement from the orchestra.

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The battlefield spends an additional $41,000 in direct and in-kind costs annually, according to the statement.

Fitzsimmons told the County Commissioners that without more financial support, the concert would be in jeopardy.

Riford said Salute to Independence is a large event for the county, drawing more than 30,000 people each year. It also pumps $350,000 to $500,000 into the local economy, brings name recognition to the county and boosts tourism, he said.

The commissioners voted unanimously to give $20,000 from the county's share of hotel/motel tax revenues to the orchestra.

The 2007 concert is scheduled for July 7 at 7:30 p.m.

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